Gustav-Mahler.eu

The final movement, "The Farewell", is nearly as long as the previous five movements combined. Its text is drawn from two different poems, both involving the theme of leave-taking. Mahler himself added the last lines. This final song is also notable for its text-painting, using a mandolin to represent the singer's lute, imitating bird calls with woodwinds, and repeatedly switching between the major and minor modes to articulate sharp contrasts in the text. 

Chinese poets: Meng Haoran ( 孟浩然;) and Wang Wei.

The movement is divided into three major sections. In the first, the singer describes the nature around her as night falls. In the second, she is waiting for her friend to say a final farewell. A long orchestral interlude precedes the third section, which depicts the exchange between the two friends and fades off into silence.

Lines 1-3, 17-19, and 26-28 are all sung to the same music, with nothing but a pedal point in the low strings and a countermelody in the flute. The singer repeats the final word of the song, "ewig" ("forever"), like a mantra, accompanied by sustained chords in the orchestra, which features mandolin, harps, and celesta. "Ewig" is repeated as the music fades into silence, the final chord "imprinted on the atmosphere" as Benjamin Britten asserted.

Das Lied von der Erde, Lied 6: Der Abschied.

It is also worth noting that throughout Das Lied von der Erde there is a persistent message that "The earth will stay beautiful forever, but man cannot live for even a hundred years." At the end of "Der Abschied," however, Mahler adds three original lines which repeat this, but purposefully omit the part saying that "man must die". Conductor, composer, and musicologist Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) asserts that this ties in with the Eastern idea of Nirvana, in that the "soul" of the singer, as s/he dies, becomes one with the everlasting earth.

 

Das Lied von der Erde, Lied 6: Der Abschied, for piano. “Clavierauszug” – Manuscript – Facsimile (Willem Mengelberg Archive, Nederlands Muziek Institut, The Hague).

The last movement is very difficult to conduct because of its cadenza-like writing for voice and solo instruments, which often flows over the barlines. Mahler specifically instructed the movement to be played "Ohne Rücksicht auf das Tempo" (Without regard for the tempo). Bruno Walter related that Mahler showed him the score of this movement and asked about one passage, "Can you think of a way of conducting that? Because I can't."Mahler also hesitated to put the piece before the public because of its relentless negativity, unusual even for him. "Won't people go home and shoot themselves?" he asked.

Nicholas Clifford: In 1950 I heard Bruno Walter (1876-1962) do this two evenings in a row in Salzburg with Julius Patzak and Kathleen Ferrier. Julius Patzak sang while holding a book of Chinese verses in his withered hand. Probably a copy of Die chinesische Flöte.

 

Der Abschied

 

Die Sonne scheidet hinter dem Gebirge.

In alle Täler steigt der Abend nieder

Mit seinen Schatten, die voll Kühlung sind.

O sieh! Wie eine Silberbarke schwebt

Der Mond am blauen Himmelssee herauf.

Ich spüre eines feinen Windes Wehn

Hinter den dunklen Fichten!

 

Der Bach singt voller Wohllaut durch das Dunkel.

Die Blumen blassen im Dämmerschein.

Die Erde atmet voll von Ruh und Schlaf,

Alle Sehnsucht will nun träumen.

Die müden Menschen gehn heimwärts,

Um im Schlaf vergeßnes Glück

Und Jugend neu zu lernen!

Die Vögel hocken still in ihren Zweigen.

Die Welt schläft ein!

 

Es wehet kühl im Schatten meiner Fichten.

Ich stehe hier und harre meines Freundes;

Ich harre sein zum letzten Lebewohl.

Ich sehne mich, o Freund, an deiner Seite

Die Schönheit dieses Abends zu genießen.

Wo bleibst du? Du läßt mich lang allein!

Ich wandle auf und nieder mit meiner Laute

Auf Wegen, die vom weichen Grase schwellen.

O Schönheit! O ewigen Liebens - Lebenstrunkne Welt!

 

Er stieg vom Pferd und reichte ihm den Trunk

Des Abschieds dar. Er fragte ihn, wohin

Er führe und auch warum es müßte sein.

 

Er sprach, seine Stimme war umflort:

Du, mein Freund,

Mir war auf dieser Welt das Glück nicht hold!

Wohin ich geh? Ich geh, ich wandre in die Berge.

Ich suche Ruhe für mein einsam Herz.

Ich wandle nach der Heimat, meiner Stätte.

Ich werde niemals in die Ferne schweifen.

Still ist mein Herz und harret seiner Stunde!

 

Die liebe Erde allüberall

Blüht auf im Lenz und grünt

Aufs neu! Allüberall und ewig

Blauen licht die Fernen!

Ewig... ewig...

 

Share this article with:

Submit to FacebookSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn